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Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ambiguous Feelings, 8 July 2009
This review is from: Woken Furies (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
I've read all 4 of Richard Morgan's novels now, having just finished the Takeshi Kovacs trilogy, and while I found the books extremely hard to put down, I have finally come up against a wall in this last novel. The depth of the characters has improved with each part of the trilogy and even the far fetched SF concepts are given a life that many, if not most SF would love to create for themselves. The background of an ancient all pervasive alien culture is very well done, being used as both a plot device in the latter two novels and as a texture to the trilogy in general. The final novel paints a very detailed picture of the world his characters are on, which gives one, I think, a feeling of experiencing something lived in, not a sterile SF world, almost, but not quite Gibsonesque in detail.

All three novels are incredibly violent, and Richard Morgan's deep and biting political cynicism shows its head in each one of them, finally coming to the fore in this final novel where the hero gets caught up in a 300 year old revolution with digitally reincarnated revolutionaries, main characters dying with almost predictable regularity, only to be revived and then in some cases killed again. Richard Morgan doesn't take the easy road with his characters and it is a tribute to his skill as a writer that the dysfunctional morals and ethics of the hero, Takeshi Kovacs, and his inability to even remotley come to grips with his past made me feel an active hatred for the character, wishing by the middle of the book that he would finally just die, as all the other characters in the novel seemed to wish for.

While Richard Morgan's hard realism - ugly, violent corrupt people are standard fare - in the last novel I almost found that I was seeing too much of what I call English hard man politics shining through, very similar in its way to Neal Asher's brand of depicting the corrupt abuse of power. It gets tiring, I feel. Similarly, there is a lot of very graphic violence and a lot of very graphic sex. I have to be honest here in that I felt that the author was almost on a kind of mastubatory trip at times, and I couldn't glean any real difference in the women the main character was having sex with, except that he would have done well in hard-core porn and that the women were all "long-limbed" and that almost every woman character in the novel who wasn't lesbian wanted to and ended up also having sex with the hero. I found it somehow gratuitous.

As with his forth novel Black Man or 13 (in the USA), I couldn't escape the feeling in this one, that the author had gotten some of his ideas from other SF authors, in the case his Martian Ascension reminded me somehow very much of Iain M Bank and his subsumed societies having ascended to a higher plain.

All that said, I liked thebook and the series immensely and can recommend it to anyone with an open mind and a strong stomach.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 13 Jun 2013 09:54:26 BDT
Alex Fenton says:
In the first two books I was caught off guard by just how over the top his sex scenes were going to be, but felt that they did actually enrich the story and the depth of character of the people involved - in this book however, I would have to agree that it didn't really seem to serve the same purpose, and did feel more than a touch gratuitous.

If I was generous, I could grudgingly admit that perhaps it served to illustrate the shallowness of Takeshi's life, in general; his lack of real purpose, and aim in life, but even then, it feels like I'm stretching there.

For the first time in the series, I think his female characters got a bit of a short shrift, and I can see where you're coming from.

Still a really good novel, but 4 stars for me, not the 5 I gave to his first...

I didn't feel the 'borrowing' of ideas as strongly in this book as I did in Broken Angels (the Gibsonesque mix of voodoo and cyber-tech) - but I've not really been a massive reader of Banks, and felt that although I'd really wished that he hadn't touched the voodoo angle, that he did bring a very new angle to the theme.
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